The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, the comic book series, is not new, it was released several years (2004-5) ago in 8 issues and then compiled into a book which is also out of print. However, the concept was intriguing so I thought I would share here. You can find used copies of the book or issues on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere if your curiosity is pricked.
Hounded gunfighter Cole Jarrett chases the tale of a woman cursed to spend the rest of her days imprisoned in sleep for sins she did not commit while running from a guilt-riddled past. In this adventure, the classic fairy tale is just the beginning. Included is the entire 8-issue series, a cover gallery by Jeff Amano and an afterword from the author, Gabriel Benson (Fade From Grace).
The story of Sleeping Beauty is certainly a classic fairy tale—a baby girl is cursed to fall into eternal slumber on her 18th birthday, with only a handsome prince able to break the spell. What Gabriel Benson and Mike Hawthorne have done, though, is moved the story out of its traditional home of medieval Europe and into a slightly more contemporary setting: the Wild West. And you know? It fits really well.
In the town of Briar Rose, the inhabitants were able to easily ignore the old Indian woman who came seeking help during the snowstorm. They remembered some of the other Indian tribes ambushing and attacking them as they journeyed west of the Mississippi River to found Briar Rose, and prejudices die hard. What they weren’t so able to ignore was when she reappeared to curse the firstborn child of the town, dooming her and the townspeople to eternal slumber in 18 years time. Now a young man wants to seek out Briar Rose and break the curse… but first he’s got to get that hangman’s noose off from around his neck, and the only source of help he can find is the mysterious Cole. Who, of course, is right next to him awaiting death by hanging.
Writer Benson has a thin line to walk with The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty—trying to keep the basic story of Sleeping Beauty intact, while changing and adding enough that it won’t bore the audience. I think he’s found a good balance here; between the slight changes to the story of Sleeping Beauty itself plus the addition of Cole’s own story, and my interest was piqued. I appreciated the fact that the curse this time doesn’t happen simply because of an evil faerie wasn’t invited to a party, but because of prejudice and fear applied to an innocent old woman turned away in an hour of need. It makes the curse less random and casts a less-than-perfect light upon the people of Briar Rose. Cole’s story itself has only just begun, but there’s just enough there to make me want to know more; Benson’s doling out of the facts works perfectly here. There’s a good insinuation here that Cole’s life has been less than perfect as well, and it’s these shades of grey that make the Wild West setting of The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty work, in an era and place where there were no easy choices or solutions.
There's more to read there, but that's my limit for blockquoting.